Fewer SAT II Subject Test Requirements – Should You Still Take Three?
For many years, top colleges required not only SAT or ACT scores, but SAT Subject Test scores, too. The general rule was that competitive schools required three SAT IIs. Last year, Princeton reduced its three subject test requirement to two. This year Harvard and Georgetown – the last institutions to require three subject tests – both dropped their requirement to two.
What brought the change?
Two reasons are commonly cited.
The first is the 2005 addition of the writing sections of the ACT and SAT in 2005. Many colleges claim that the writing section is a viable gauge of future academic work. In the New York Times, Harvard Spokesman Jeff Neal said that “Many colleges, including Harvard, became confident that by reducing the number of required tests, they would not reduce their capacity to make good academic assessments.”
The second main reason for requiring fewer subject tests is an attempt by institutions to be open to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Financial aid officers and sociologists cite economic reasons as a barrier for lower-income students to take tests. As part of a general trend to educate the public about the accessibility and financial aid options of top institutions, many admissions offices made the decision to relinquish the three subject test requirement.
So, is it worth taking three (or more) SAT Subject Tests anymore?
Requirements at schools are fewer, but standards are not lower, and the recommendation for taking three tests is still present. Georgetown very carefully reworded “required” to “it is strongly recommended” for all candidates to submit three SAT Subject Test scores. In any case, an optional third test – or a first test in a unique subject – will not hurt a student’s candidacy, but show a different part of the student. Who can say no to that?